October 30, 2014

Right whales dying off, program aims to save and protect

Photo by Wildlife Trust

"Dragon" the right whale

To date, there are approximately 425 North Atlantic right whales in existence. “We need to make sure that they are no longer endangered, they really are. They could be extinct anywhere from 50 to 200 years if nothing is done to protect them. But, having these animals on our planet is very important for our ecology,” says Dianna Shulte of Wildlife Trust.Listen here to interview portion

Wildlife Trust is in its third year of a $1 million partnership with the South Carolina State Ports Authority in a program to protect these whales.

Shulte says some ways citizens and boaters can protect these whales: “By getting the public involved in just spreading the word and having the help of the Port Authority really gets us to learn more about these animals, and also if the public knows more about right whales and their importance then they can do something as well to help keep the animals here on the planet, just knowing more about them. If their boaters, or have friends that are boaters, knowing how to behave around right whales, and just simply stay away from them if you have your own boat. Some other environmental things, don’t forget your trash in the water,” says Shulte.

Shulte says right whales remain along the South Carolina coast between mid-November and mid-April. She says they stay along the Atlantic year long.

“They’re kind of all over the place. Typically in the winter time, the females will come to the Southeast area anywhere between South Carolina and North Florida to give birth to their calves. In the summertime they can be in the Great South Channel, that’s southeast of the Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In the mid-summer time they are further north off the bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia,” says Shulte.

Today, Shulte and other Wildlife Trust members joined the team from the South Carolina State Ports Authority at the Mt. Pleasant Regional Airport to continue this five-year program aimed at finding out more about the whales to get the knowledge out to the public. The Wildlife Trust reported that the largest threats to right whales are mostly human-related. Shulte says she is thrilled to continue this “Pledge for Growth” with the Ports Authority.

“I think it’s great, it’s great to have that connection with the Ports Authority. It brings our mission around to full circle getting the Ports Authority involved. Again, ships strike as one of the major threats to right whales, having their support is really important to our mission,” says Shulte.